Tuesday, September 30, 2014

GeoGarage B2B platform proposes ENC nautical charts viewing link

Cowes (Island of Wight), UKHO ENC overlayed on Google Maps imagery

Cowes (Island of Wight), UKHO RNC (raster chart) overlayed on Google Maps imagery

The GeoGarage platform serves right now images of vector ENC Electronic navigational charts as a complementary offer to the different raster nautical charts (RNC) layers for its B2B customers.

This implementation of ENCs allows to complete the catalog of available nautical charts proposed by the Marine GeoGarage platform, for regions where the GeoGarage can't propose -for the moment- raster data (pending licenses with some international Hydrographic Offices).

It can be used in combination with or as a backdrop to other geo-spatial data layers (e.g. Vessel Traffic monitoring, weather) in third-parties web or mobile B2B applications.

Note : these ENC charts can't be used for B2B integrators who plan to use them in public applications (due to restrictions on s-63 data use)

 Hamburg harbour, BSH ENC overlayed on Google Maps imagery

GeoGarage supports a wide variety of ENC data products :

  • s-57 data from international Hydrographic Offices with which Marine GeoGarage got some partnerships
  • s-63 encrypted data (signed specifically for the GeoGarage customer in the Primar catalogue)

 La Garonne river (at Langon), VNF IENC overlayed on Google Maps

Technically,  the GeoGarage platform is developed in accordance with OGC requirements, making it the simple tool for the integration of nautical charts layer in third-parties B2B applications.
The GeoGarage utilizes a Web Map Service for displaying available ENC in WMS clients such as the Javascript viewers (OpenLayers, Leflet, ArcGIS, or customized Google Maps)

 San Francisco, NOAA ENC overlayed on Google Maps imagery

The display of the vectorial ENC vector data can be configured according the specifications and the business needs of the B2B final integrator :
  • the raster display supporting all the IHO s-52 (ECDIS) symbolization chart settings
  • extended chart object filtering possibility
  • optimizing delivery of chart across the Internet through image tile cache, for quick display of selected areas
 Singapore ENC overlayed on Google Maps imagery

Don't hesitate to contact the GeoGarage team to get some more information about Terms of Use and pricing.


The Aral sea loses its Eastern lobe link

acquired August 19, 2014
Satellite images from NASA show that over the last 14 years, one of the world's largest inland bodies of water, the Aral Sea in Central Asia, has almost completely dried up and disappeared.
NASA Earth Observatory image by Jesse Allen, using data from the Level 1 and Atmospheres Active Distribution System (LAADS).
Caption by Kathryn Hansen.
Instrument(s): Terra - MODIS

acquired August 25, 2000

From NASA 

Summer 2014 marked another milestone for the Aral Sea, the once-extensive lake in Central Asia that has been shrinking markedly since the 1960s.
For the first time in modern history, the eastern basin of the South Aral Sea has completely dried.

This image pair from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Terra satellite shows the sea without its eastern lobe on August 19, 2014 (top).
Substantial changes are apparent when compared to an image from August 25, 2000 (bottom), and again when compared to the approximate location of the shoreline in 1960 (black outline).

"This is the first time the eastern basin has completely dried in modern times," said Philip Micklin, a geographer emeritus from Western Michigan University and an Aral Sea expert.
"And it is likely the first time it has completely dried in 600 years, since Medieval desiccation associated with diversion of Amu Darya to the Caspian Sea."

In the 1950s and 1960s, the government of the former Soviet Union diverted the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya—the region's two major rivers—to irrigate farmland.
The diversion began the lake's gradual retreat.
By the start of the Terra series in 2000, the lake had already separated into the North (Small) Aral Sea in Kazakhstan and the South (Large) Aral Sea in Uzbekistan.
The South Aral had further split into western and eastern lobes.

 The changes are dramatically documented in a series of images from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Terra satellite.
By 2000, when this sequence of satellite photos begins, a large portion of the sea had already been drained.
Instead of a single large body of water, there were now two smaller ones: the Northern and Southern Aral Seas.
The Southern Aral Sea shrunk further into two lobes connected by narrow channels at the top and bottom.
In ensuing years, the lobes get smaller and smaller.
A drought from 2005 to 2009 accelerated the changes, NASA says.
Also in 2005, Kazakhstan completed a dam project aimed at shoring up water supplies in the Northern Aral Sea at the expense of the southern portion.
The most recent photo, from August 2014, shows just a thin sliver of water remaining on its western edge.

The eastern lobe of the South Aral nearly dried in 2009 and then saw a huge rebound in 2010.
Water levels continued to fluctuate annually in alternately dry and wet years.

According to Micklin, the desiccation in 2014 occurred because there has been less rain and snow in the watershed that starts in the distant Pamir Mountains; this has greatly reduced water flow on the Amu Darya.
In addition, huge amounts of river water continue to be withdrawn for irrigation.
The Kok-Aral Dam across the Berg Strait—a channel that connects the northern Aral Sea with the southern part—played some role, but has not been a major factor this year, he said.
"This part of the Aral Sea is showing major year-to-year variations that are dependent on flow of Amu Darya," Micklin said.
"I would expect this pattern to continue for some time."

Links :


Monday, September 29, 2014

Flight MH370: New search images reveal seabed details link

The floor of the ocean is dotted with the remains of extinct volcanoes, known as seamounts

From BBC by

The team looking for missing flight MH370 has released detailed images of the seabed - revealing features such as extinct volcanoes and 1,400-metre depressions for the first time.
The collection of data from one of the most secret parts of the world is a by-product of the search.
Until now there were better maps of Mars than of this bit of the sea floor.

 Possibility MH370 crash area with the Marine GeoGarage (AHS chart)

The Malaysian Airlines plane vanished without trace on 8 March with 239 people on board.
Twenty-six countries have helped look for the Boeing 777, but nothing has ever been found.
The aircraft was flying from the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, to Beijing.

There are also depressions on the seabed, some as deep as 1,400 metres

The maps will be used to guide search vehicles close to the seabed

The team at the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), which is leading the hunt for the plane, is using sonar to map the new "priority" search area, at the bottom of the Southern Indian Ocean.
After that they will deploy two or three deep-sea vehicles to begin the painstaking, inch-by-inch seabed search for wreckage.
The "priority" area is based on the only piece of hard evidence investigators have, which is a series of brief, electronic "hellos" between the Boeing and a satellite.
It is the equivalent of your mobile phone buzzing next to a loud speaker because it is checking in with a ground station, even when you are not making a call.
But those "hellos" don't give an exact location, just a very rough idea, so the smaller, "priority" area is still 60,000 sq km (23,200 sq miles) - an area roughly the size of Croatia.

 The new maps reveal the "priority" search area in the southern Indian Ocean

However, the data is not designed to pick up the aircraft, as the resolution is too coarse.
Simon Boxall from the National Oceanography Centre says that despite this, it does provide a detailed look at the seabed.
"Those 'bumps' on the sea floor in the flat, featureless plains to the south of Broken Ridge are each bigger than Ben Nevis.
"Five kilometres (3 miles) across and typically rising 1.5km (0.9 miles) from the sea floor. The terrain of the area around Broken Ridge makes the European Alps look like foothills," he said.
Making sonar maps is vital to ensure the team does not crash its deep-water vehicles into ridges and volcanoes. The equipment is pulled along the sea floor by a 10km armoured cable.
Snagging that cable could damage the kit, or even cut it free, so the maps help them avoid any obstructions.
The deep sea search vehicles have sonar that can pick out odd lumps, cameras that can double check if that lump is wreckage or just a rock and an electronic nose that can smell aviation fuel in the water, even if it is heavily diluted.

The operation to find flight MH370 is the most complex search in history.
They may find clues within months.
Or they may never find the aircraft.

Links :


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Velella, "by-the-wind sailors" link

The tiny sea creatures, called "by-the-wind sailors," washed ashore in Humboldt, California (above) and other beaches along the West Coast.

From LiveSciences by Tanya Lewis

An invasion is afoot along beaches from Oregon to California: Millions of glassy purple, jellyfish-like sea creatures that look like sailboats have been washing ashore.
Known as "by-the-wind sailors," they typically live in the open ocean, but when warm water and storms draw them near shore, the wind blows them onto beaches, where they die in stinking piles.
These creatures, whose scientific name is Velella velella, aren't actually jellyfish, but hydrozoans, related to the Portuguese man-of-war.
Yet unlike man-of-war, they don't sting humans, though authorities don't recommend touching your face or eyes after handling them.

 Velella velella is known by the names sea raft, by-the-wind sailor

 or also purple sail, little sail, or simply Velella.

Each little sailboat, measuring about 2.75 inches (7 centimeters) long, is in fact a colony of hundreds of smaller organisms, each with a specialized function such as feeding or reproduction, researchers say.
"They sit at the surface of the ocean and have little sails," and their movement depends on which way the wind is blowing, said Richard Brodeur, a fishery biologist at NOAA Fisheries' Newport, Oregon, research station.

Most of the time off the coast of Oregon and California, the winds are blowing toward the South, into the open ocean, Peterson said.
But when big storms sweep out of the southwest — like one that hit California two weeks ago — it blows these living flotillas onto the beaches, he said.
There, they usually die, giving off a bad smell as they rot, he added.

Tons of the nautical creatures can be found at sea, but they don't always come ashore, Brodeur told Live Science. But recently, huge numbers of them have been washing up on land.
"This happens every few years, where they get blown onto the beaches," said Bill Peterson, an oceanographer also stationed at NOAA Fisheries' Newport lab. In 2009 or 2010, the beach had piles of the creatures 2-feet to 3-feet (60 to 90 cm) thick, and "it stunk like heaven," Peterson told Live Science.

Velella - Planktonic Vessels
from Parafilms

Colonies of polyps transported by prevailing winds, velella drift at the surface of warm seas.
Plankton Chronicles Project by Christian Sardet, CNRS / Noe Sardet and Sharif Mirshak, Parafilms

The animals can be found all over the world, but they mostly live in tropical or subtropical waters, Peterson said.
They like warm water, which has recently been pooling off the Oregon and California coasts, he said. When you get warm water combined with storms, that's when the creatures blow ashore.
Peterson said these beach invasions don't happen every year, but there's nothing unusual about the one this year.


Saturday, September 27, 2014

Deadly beauty link

The Portuguese man-of-war—a colonial organism related to the jellyfish—is infamous for its painful sting, but one photographer finds the beauty inside this animal's dangerous embrace.
For nearly two years, retired U.S. Navy combat photographer Aaron Ansarov has collected and photographed man-of-wars that wash up on a local Florida beach.

From NationalGeographic by Jane J. Lee

The Portuguese man-of-war is infamous for its painful sting, but one photographer finds the beauty inside this animal's dangerous embrace.

The vibrant hues and ethereal body of the Portuguese man-of-war entice people to take a closer look, but beware—to those who draw too near, this delicate creature delivers a painful sting.
Being built like a glass-blown ship at full sail is what gave the man-of-war its nautical name.
It’s also what enables the creatures to go where the wind takes them—even when that means foundering on the beach.
This is where professional photographer Aaron Ansarov encounters them.
A retired combat photographer for the U.S. Navy, Ansarov has been collecting and photographing man-of-wars from a local Florida beach for the past two years now.
“It’s an opportunity to explore a new world,” he says, and part of a wider photo project Ansarov started after he left the military in 2007.
(Read about his project in National Geographic magazine.)

A Division of Labor

Colors are what first caught Ansarov’s eye when he saw a Portuguese man-of-war washed up on a Florida beach.
Most people think only about their nasty sting, he says.
But there is another side to this predator that Ansarov wanted to get to know.
The animal is actually part of a group related to jellyfish called siphonophores.
What appears to be one organism in this group actually is a colony.
Instead of having specialized tissues that form organs, as in other animals, siphonophores are collections of genetically identical individuals specialized for different tasks.
Some form tentacles (banded strands at the top of the image), while others form feeding bodies (brown speckled parts near the bottom), floats, or reproductive structures.

Deadly “String of Pearls”

The tentacles of the man-of-war capture and immobilize prey like young fish, small shrimp, or tiny crustaceans called copepods.
In this image, the tentacles are the long, banded strands near the bottom that look like blue or purple strings of pearls.
The tentacles contain batteries of cells that house miniscule, hollow harpoons called nematocysts.
Those barbed harpoons act like hypodermic needles, enabling the man-of-war to inject a potent mix of venom into a victim.

A Matter of Circumstance

The man-of-war’s sting is deadly to small swimmers except for the man-of-war fish, which lives and feeds among the siphonophore’s tentacles (purple strands at left in the picture above), unharmed.
But the danger for people from the man-of-war’s venom depends on the victim’s age and where they’re stung, says Angel Yanagihara, a professor who studies toxins in the group containing siphonophores at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu.
Skin thickness varies in different parts of the body, and “women and children have thinner skin than men,” she says.
“If a child gets stung around the neck, it could potentially be a lethal event because so much of the venom can be injected into the bloodstream.”
However, if an adult man gets stung across the back, it might cause only an irritation similar to when splinters are stuck in the skin, she says.

A Deadly Cocktail

“There are many paths to destruction” among these creatures, Yanagihara says, and the Portuguese man-of-war employs them all in its venom.
One compound in the venom creates holes in a cell’s membrane, essentially killing it, she says.
Other compounds slowly break down the proteins and fats surrounding the cell, allowing the man-of-war to start digesting its prey on contact.

A Shared Meal

Once a man-of-war captures a meal, the tentacle brings its prey to one of several feeding bodies (the brown speckled structures across the center of the image above).
Since the “individuals” within the colony are all connected, after a stomach digests the meal, the nutrients get spread throughout the colony.
(Watch a video of Portuguese man-of-wars.)

Setting Sail

Portuguese man-of-wars ply the high seas aided by an asymmetrical, oblong-shaped float with ridges on top (center of image).
That float acts like a sail, allowing them to angle into the wind, says Casey Dunn, an evolutionary biologist specializing in siphonophores at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.
Using that sail to move around is an amazing way to make a living, says Dunn.
“Most siphonophores are sit-and-wait predators,” he says: They park themselves in one spot for a time and wait for prey to blunder into their tentacles.
In contrast, Portuguese man-of-wars move around the ocean via their sail-topped float, trailing tentacles that dangle an average of 30 feet (9 meters) down into the water.
While their surface-skimming existence enables Portuguese man-of-wars to make a living, it also exposes them to constant bombardment by ultraviolet (UV) radiation, says Dunn.
“There are very few other animals that deal with that kind of UV exposure.”
High doses of UV radiation can result in damaged DNA, which in turn leads to mutated cells or cancer, the evolutionary biologist says.
But Portuguese man-of-wars are somehow able to avoid that fate. Dunn speculates that their brilliant colors may act as a kind of sunscreen, with their blue, violet, and purple pigments absorbing different wavelengths of UV light.

Unknowable Beauty

How man-of-wars tolerate high UV exposure is just one of many things researchers don’t know about them, says Dunn.
Their life span is another.
Their gelatinous consistency and open-ocean lifestyle make it especially difficult to study the creatures, Dunn says.
“You can tag a lion and follow it, but you can’t do that with Portuguese man-of-wars.”
And man-of-wars don’t do well in captivity. Researchers can keep them for a limited time but haven’t yet been able to raise them throughout their entire life cycle in the lab, Dunn says.

Deadly Intrigue

“They’re incredibly beautiful animals,” says Dunn.
The evolutionary biologist compares them to artwork created by renowned glass sculptor Dale Chihuly.
That beauty continues to captivate Ansarov, who plans to keep photographing the man-of-wars that wash up on his local beach.
In an age when everyone is constantly bombarded with visuals, it’s easy to take a quick look at an image and move on, he says.
“In nature, it’s become a bad thing because we see a living creature and we consume it visually and move on,” Ansarov says.
“[We] forget the fact that this is a living creature that’s struggling to survive.”
He hopes his images of Portuguese man-of-wars will help people cultivate an appreciation, or at least an understanding, of one of the ocean’s more intriguing animals.


Friday, September 26, 2014

A tale of two Poles : Arctic sea ice shrinks, Antarctic grows link

acquired September 17, 2014
The yellow outline on the map shows the median sea ice extent observed in September
from 1981 through 2010. 


Arctic sea ice continued its long-term decline in 2014, as the ice reached its annual minimum extent on September 17.
According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), Arctic sea ice covered just 5.02 million square kilometers (1.94 million square miles) this summer, an extent similar to 2013 and well below the 1981–2010 average of 6.22 million square kilometers (2.40 million square miles).
The 2014 sea ice extent was the sixth lowest recorded in the modern satellite era.
The summer started off as a relatively cool one, and lacked the big storms or persistent winds that can break up ice and increase melting, said Walter Meier, a research scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.
“Even with a relatively cool year, the ice is so much thinner than it used to be,” Meier said.
“It's more susceptible to melting.”

The Northwest Passage remained ice-bound this summer.
But a patch of open water stretched far north of Siberia in the Laptev Sea, reaching 85 degrees north. It is the farthest north that scientists have observed open ocean water in the satellite era, Meier said.

While summer sea ice has covered more of the Arctic in the past two years than in the record low of 2012, it does not mean the Arctic is returning to average conditions.
This year's minimum extent fits with a long downward trend in which the Arctic Ocean has lost about 13 percent of its sea ice per decade since the late 1970s.

 Monthly sea ice extent arranged in a grid pattern with years running horizontally from 1979 to 2014 and months running vertically from January through December

To measure sea ice extent, scientists include areas that are at least 15 percent ice-covered.
The NASA-developed computer program, which is one of several methods scientists use to calculate extent, is based on data from sensors on the NASA's Nimbus 7 satellite, which operated from 1978 to 1987, and the U.S. Department of Defense's Defense Meteorological Satellite Program, which has provided information since 1987.

The map (at the top) shows the extent of arctic sea ice on September 17, 2014.
The map is based data from the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer 2 (AMSR2) sensor on Japan's Global Change Observation Mission 1st-Water (GCOM-W1) satellite.

Meanwhile, sea ice on the other side of the planet was headed in the opposite direction.
The second map, also based on data from the AMSR2 sensor, shows Antarctic sea ice on September 19, 2014.
While it was not yet possible to determine if the ice had reached its maximum extent for the year, the five-day average had already surpassed 20 million square kilometers (7.70 million square miles) for the first time in the modern satellite record, according to NSIDC.

 acquired September 19, 2014

“This is not unexpected,” said Nathan Kurtz, a cryospheric scientist at NASA Goddard.
He noted that many climate models actually predict a short-term increase in Antarctic sea ice.
Factors like increasing fresh water and higher wind speeds promote ice growth and expansion—factors that appear to be dominating right now.
In the long-term, Kurtz added, “increasing near-surface air temperatures are expected to have the stronger effect and begin to melt the ice and halt the expansion.”

Sea ice around Antarctica has been increasing, but not by much.
“The overall trend of sea ice expansion in the Antarctic is only one-third of the magnitude of the decrease in arctic sea ice,” Kurtz said.

Antarctic sea ice develops and evolves under vastly different circumstances than Arctic sea ice.
In the north, sea ice sits in a nearly land-locked ocean, while sea ice in the southern hemisphere exists in the open ocean surrounding an extensive land mass.
This geography affects how the ice expands and retreats in response to climate, leading in part to the differing sea ice scenarios at the two poles.

Links :


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Plans to protect square miles of ocean, working with world's governments link

President Obama will use his legal authority
to create the world’s largest fully protected marine reserve in the central Pacific Ocean
The amount of US ocean highly protected just jumped from 6% to 15%.

From National Geographic by Brian Clark Howard
     & Washington Post by Juliet Eilperin

The National Geographic Society announced a major expansion Monday of its campaign to help protect the planet's most species-rich marine areas, with a goal of convincing governments to officially safeguard more than 770,000 square miles (two million square kilometers) of ocean.

The Society aims to help designate more than 20 new underwater locales as marine reserves in the next five years.
"Preserving our oceans is essential for protecting biodiversity," former President Bill Clinton said as he announced the Society's efforts at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York on Monday.
"The ocean is the world's largest natural resource," Clinton said, noting that it contributes more than $20 trillion to the global economy. Yet, "human impact on the ocean is undeniable."
The expanded effort will build on National Geographic's Pristine Seas project, which has financed 10 scientific expeditions to remote areas of ocean around the world, including in the South Pacific and off Africa, Russia, and South America.
New efforts will target the Seychelles—an archipelago in the Indian Ocean—northern Greenland, and South America's Patagonia region, Clinton said.

As a result of the program's work, government leaders have protected areas in the United States, Chile, Kiribati, and Costa Rica that cover more than 150,000 square miles (about 400,000 square kilometers).
"A few country leaders have already shown tremendous leadership in ocean conservation by creating the largest marine no-take areas in history," says Enric Sala, a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence who launched Pristine Seas in 2009.
"National Geographic Pristine Seas and our partners are excited to inspire other leaders to protect what's irreplaceable: the last wild places in the ocean."
Terry Garcia, National Geographic's chief science and exploration officer, pointed to overfishing, pollution, and climate change as major threats facing the ocean.

 Blacktip sharks, bluefin trevallies, and twinspot snappers swim in a lagoon off Caroline Island,
also called Millennium Island.
Photo Brian Skerry, National Geographic

If the campaign is successful, it will help countries meet the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity's target of protecting 10 percent of the world's oceans by 2020.
The Pristine Seas team is already working with national governments to help them create several new marine reserves.

 The waters around Caroline Island, part of the southern Line Islands in the central Pacific Ocean, were protected in part thanks to National Geographic's Pristine Seas project.

Another Pristine Seas project would create a reserve around the United Kingdom's Pitcairn Islands.

Partners announced for Pristine Seas include the Waitt Foundation, Prince Albert of Monaco, the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, the Jynwel Foundation, the Leona and Harry Helmsley Charitable Trust, Blancpain, Davidoff Cool Water, Lindblad Expeditions, Dynamic Planet, former President José María Figueres of Costa Rica, and individual donors.


 Footage from already-protected areas in the Palmyra Atoll and Kingman Reef,
courtesy of National Geographic.

President Obama will use his legal authority Thursday to create the world’s largest fully protected marine reserve in the central Pacific Ocean, demonstrating his increased willingness to advance a conservation agenda without the need for congressional approval. (see White House PR)

By broadening the existing Pacific Remote Islands National Marine Monument from almost 87,000 square miles to more than 490,000 square miles, Obama has protected more acres of federal land and sea by executive power than any other president in at least 50 years and makes the area off-limits to commercial fishing.
The proclamation will mean added protections for deep-sea coral reefs and other marine ecosystems that administration officials believe are among “the most vulnerable” to the negative impacts of climate change. 
While the new designation is a scaled-back version of an even more ambitious plan the administration had floated in June, it marks the 12th time Obama will have exercised his power under the 1906 Antiquities Act to protect environmental assets.
The decision to continue to allow fishing around roughly half the area's islands and atolls aims to limit any economic impact on the U.S. fishing interests.  

NGA chart with the Marine GeoGarage
 Under the new designation, the administration will expand the fully protected areas from 50 miles offshore from three remote areas — Johnston Atoll, Wake Atoll and Jarvis Island — to 200 miles, the maximum area within the United States’ exclusive economic zone.
The existing, 50-mile safeguards around Kingman Reef and Palmyra Atoll, as well as Howland and Baker islands, which are also part of the existing monuments, will not change.

Obama has protected 297 million acres of federal lands and waters through executive action, surpassing George W. Bush, who safeguarded 211 million acres.
While the islands in question are uninhabited, U.S. tuna operators and some officials in Hawaii and American Samoa have opposed the expansion on the grounds that it could make it more difficult to catch tuna and other species at certain times of year.
Fish caught in the area around all seven atolls and islands account for up to 4 percent of the annual U.S. tuna catch in the western and central Pacific, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts. 

Matt Rand, who leads the Pew Charitable Trust’s Global Ocean Legacy project, said that because more than half-a-dozen other nations are considering creating new protected areas in the Pacific, “This could be the wave that ultimately propels these marine reserves to become reality.”
 Taken together with the U.S. announcement, these areas could encompass more than 2.3 million square miles of sea.

Links :